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New York, N.Y.—“It’s a David-and-Goliath kind of deal,” Paul Elam, founder of the men’s rights website and activist group A Voice for Men, explains to GQ’s Jeff Sharlet at the group’s first-ever convention. Elam says he is David, confronting the Goliath of Womanhood. They say it’s a woman’s world now—that women have the upper hand in sex, in universities, in custody battles and “bogus” rape cases. “Woman gone insane with the power of the pussy pass,” is how Elam describes the group’s raison d’etrê in an essay called “When Is It OK to Punch Your Wife?” Sharlet reports from inside the convention, listening at length to Elam’s verbose and at times ludicrous doctrine, speaking with his supporters, and the women, known as ‘honey badgers’ who are fighting for patriarchy.


Elam’s website is part of “the manosphere,” which refers to the vast online network of sites, chat rooms, and corners of the internet devoted to men, and their problems (usually with women), including fathers’ rights, suicide, circumcision, false accusations of rape, male victims of rape, and unfaithful wives. “Men who’ve decided to check out because they can’t take it anymore, guys going to live in their cars because they have nowhere to go,” is how Elam describes his disciples and how they find their way to his group. “I get e-mails from people who say, ‘I was suicidal until I found your website and realized I wasn’t alone.’” They are all, one activist explains, post red-pill moment; the born-again experience of opening your eyes to the woman’s Matrix-like control of the modern world.


Elam, who is white, tells Sharlet that he identifies with Malcom X; he believes he needs to shock society “by any means necessary” to be heard.” This is how he justifies his talk of women who are “freaking begging” to be raped, and why he would like to make October “Bash a Violent Bitch Month,” in which men should take the women who abuse them “by the hair and small their face against the wall till the smugness of beating on someone because you know they won’t fight back drains from their nose with a few million red corpuscles.”


Elsewhere at the conference, Sharlet encounters Albert Calabrese, who wears a shirt in support of freeing his friend, Robert Maynard, who is in jail for a having a relationship with a 14-year-old girl. “He received a naked picture of her,” explains Calabrese. He believes his friend Maynard would argue that 14 is sexually mature, but Calabrese (who Sharlet points out is an easily Googleable sex offender, convicted of sexual misconduct with a minor) says he would prefer the age of consent set at 12; “I would rather err on the side of 12-year-olds having sex than on the side of ruining men’s lives.”


The Honey Badgers say their main concern is men who fall vulnerable to predatory women and are raped. “It’s largely invisible,” a Badger named Rachel Edwards says. “It’ll often happen in colleges. A guy will wake up and be like, ‘you weren’t there before, what are you doing here?’ And then they don’t know who to talk to about what’s happened.”


The March issue of GQ is now available on national newsstands. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015